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Your Productivity – A Strategic Approach to Success

October 26th, 2012

The best example of hard work that accomplishes little is the hamster wheel. You feel like you are running all day, busy from the time you wake until the time your head hits the pillow at night, but when you look back on your day, you feel like you haven’t gotten very far. You’ve surely heard the term “work smarter, not harder.” Here are a few steps to consider on your way to increased productivity and happiness.

Determine where you are going. Begin with the simple (or not so simple) task of establishing your long term and short term goals for your business. This vision you have for yourself is what should be guiding your daily activities, so make it a clear with which to view your day.

Make a plan of how to get there. You want to make a plan every day to get you to your expressed goals. Realizing from the start that you cannot accomplish everything you want every day, you will feel more fulfilled and productive if you break down your activities into manageable chunks and prioritize them on a daily basis. Begin by segmenting your goals into smaller mini goals. Then select 5 or 6 activities that will reach each mini goal. Work each day with this to-do list, focusing on these activities. Your plan may look something like this:

Goal: to become a paid presenter at your industry trade shows.
Mini Goal: gain industry recognition as an expert
 Activity 1: start a thread on LinkedIn
Activity 2: research how others have gained recognition
Activity 3: contact vendors to schedule further education on product lines
 Activity 4: respond to existing questions on industry sites, offering opinions and advice
Activity 5: schedule public speaking classes

You would continue with each mini goal, adding activities under each one. On a daily basis, decided which mini goal you are going to work on and set out to accomplish as many of the listed activities as possible. Any that you do not complete, work on first the next day.

You can see that when broken down, these pieces seem completely manageable and you should be able to achieve most of them in a day. And, your sense of accomplishment is amplified by the knowledge that each of these tasks is directly related to accomplishing you bigger goal. This is the definition of productive.

Analyze what you are doing currently. Take a look at how you are spending your days. Make a list of the following things: what “jobs” you are currently doing (father, husband, manager, soccer coach, household accountant, sounding board, etc.) List them all. Next, list all the projects you are currently working on. List all the things you feel you should be working on but haven’t gotten to yet. This is a big list! Now look at it and cross out all the ones that are not going to help you reach your work goal. What is left is what you should be focusing on during your work day. The other roles and tasks will fall under activities to reach other personal goals – yes, this formula will work for any aspect of your life, personal and professional.  In fact, it is important to focus on other aspects of your life too, so you can have a sense of balance and serenity.

Imagine yourself putting your head on the pillow at night and not fretting about all the things you didn’t get done. This can become an every night routine for you once you break down your to-do list into manageable pieces that are all designed to reach your goals.

ERG Staffing Services will help you reach your professional goals of attaining a full staff of qualified professionals.  We are the leading light industrial staffing provider in Southeastern PA, and we are ready to help you.  Contact us today.

Pump Up Worker Productivity in 4 Easy Steps

August 17th, 2012

It is so easy to fall into a “turn the crank” mentality when your company is running pretty smoothly.  No major problems and many of us feel that all is well.  That may be, but is it as good as it can be?  Don’t we all want more?

Utilizing your existing team, you can increase productivity in a few easy steps.  These have to be maintained consistently to see long term results.  But your leadership can absolutely get your team to work smarter, not harder, increase productivity and boost employee morale and loyalty in the process.

Set goals as a team.  Top-down goals setting works, to a point.  The way to really get your team on board is to set achievable goals together.  Of course you are steering the ship, and the largest goals will still be set by top management, but all the smaller goals that will get you to the bigger ones can be worked out with your team.  By engaging employees in the goal setting process you create ownership of the goal for them.  Everyone thinks ideas are better if they are their own, and if seen as their own, employees will work harder to achieve them.  They will also get a greater sense of satisfaction from attaining success.

Establish metrics by which to measure success.  Now that you have established where you want to go, you will need to establish ways to measure your progress, individually and as a team.  The team may feel they are working so hard and making good progress toward their goals, but how can you tell?  Not having hard data to look at leaves you at the mercy of hunches, theories and opinion.  You need actual facts to back up the feelings of success, and to guide the team in specific directions where their efforts need to be increased.

Employees will see these metrics as their actual goal, so establish 3 to 5 metrics per quarter that are quantifiable and measureable.  Involve the employees in figuring out how to reach the goals, and then set up ways to measure those tactics.   Say one of the goals is to increase orders processed by 10%.  You know how many orders you process currently, so you will be able to measure progress in real time with actual numbers. You should establish metrics for individuals that will measure how they can get there, such as increasing order accuracy (which will decrease time spent on corrections).  This way when an employee sees his accuracy numbers going up, he will know for certain that his order accuracy is directly contributing to increasing the number of orders processed.

Share successes along the way.  Once the goals are established for the quarter, and everyone knows how you are measuring success, measure it.  Then, share it.  Frequent updates on how well (or poorly) your team is performing toward achieving their goals are critical in keeping them engaged in the process.  If they are doing well, knowing that will reinforce all the behaviors that have gotten them this far.  If they are falling short, they will know where, and you can coach them and guide them to better results.

Reexamine your metrics quarterly.  You work in a dynamic environment, so your metrics cannot remain static.  Have you raised prices lately?  Have you increased or decreased the number of employees?  These types of changes may directly affect your metrics, so reevaluate often to make sure you can still measure the same way.

This process of goal setting and measuring can be an incredible team building and motivating experience for your company.  People like to know what is expected of them, how they can meet those expectations, achieving them and being recognized for those achievements.  Satisfied and motivated employees are productive and loyal, and are your greatest asset.  Protect it.

Are you looking to increase your employee assets?  At ERG Staffing we have our own highly trained team that can help you find yours.  Call us today to get started.

Increase Efficiency and Reduce Costs in your Warehouse

June 8th, 2012

An increase in efficiency will usually lead to an increase in profitability, which is everyone’s ultimate goal in business.  Knowing that you can’t improve what you don’t measure, it’s critical to analyze what’s currently being done in your warehouse.

To do this, you may want to conduct an operations audit to systematically look at your labor, work flow, systems and facilities and determine how you’re performing in some key areas. Ask yourself the following questions:

How is your space being used?  One of the biggest culprits in lost profits is an inefficient use of the cube. Receiving, picking, packing and shipping tend to use up to 50 percent of your space, with product storage taking up the rest.  Using racking, a multi-level order picking concept and power conveyors can increase your effective use of your cubic feet.  Can a simple reconfiguration lead to more product storage?

Can you reduce walking time?  As much as 70 percent of a worker’s time can be spent walking.  Reducing this number will increase orders picked per hour.  Consider establishing a system in which you can store at least one week’s average unit movement in the pick slot as well as a “hot pick” area for extremely fast movers.

Are you taking full advantage of the power of bar codes?  Demand consistent bar code standards from all your vendors, so you can utilize them throughout the process to track products, verify accuracy, speed up processing and eliminate paperwork.

Are the products available when pickers need them? Use a combination of scheduled replenishment of the primary pick slot, utilizing the min-max and demand-replenishment concepts to ensure consistently available inventory levels.

Is your warehouse neat?  Organization and neatness organically increase productivity and worker morale.  Get rid of obsolete equipment.  Keep everything in its place.

Are you flexible?  As it becomes increasingly difficult to predict the future, your flexibility and scalability will be the keys to your survival and growth.   This will allow you to effectively respond to changing requirements, such as merchants increasing their SKUs or changing the types and sizes of items they offer.  Are you allocating space for future growth?

Do you know where all of your inventory is located?  Sound silly? It’s a significant shortcoming if your system does not allow for multiple locations of inventory to be shown.  For efficient operations, your warehouse inventory system must be able to identify what SKU is stored in each location, as well as the quantity of each.

Does your staff know how they’re doing?  The simple act or measuring and reporting key metrics to your workers will improve efficiency.  People like to know where they stand and want to succeed.  By giving them this feedback you will see an uptick in productivity.

Are your vendors meeting your needs?  Because so much of what you do depends on what your vendors do, enforce a vendor compliance policy on everything from bar code standards to packaging standards.  This will prevent you from incurring additional labor costs to repack or re-code products.

This auditing process should remain an ongoing initiative to continuously measure and improve your productivity and efficiency, and thereby your profitability as well.

Want another way to save money and increase efficiency? When you need reliable workers quickly and affordably, call on the staffing specialists at ERG Staffing!

Increase Your Warehouse Productivity with a Strategic Staffing Plan

May 18th, 2012

By keeping your warehouse working efficiently, you can improve productivity. And you can improve efficiency by purchasing current equipment and maintaining safe and comfortable working conditions—and by controlling your labor costs.

Labor is your first or second largest expense after outbound freight, and successful staffing practices can lower that cost.

Strategic Staffing Makes It Easy

Nearly every organization is being challenged to do more with less. To succeed, flexibility is key—especially in your staffing strategy. Flexible staffing is critical for operational efficiency and adaptability. It can help you manage your workload, meet strategic objectives, and fill gaps in your workforce.

Managing Your Workload

  1. Administrative and Low-Priority Tasks

Boost the productivity of your core staff by allowing temporary employees to handle the administrative and low priority activities.

  1. Unexpected Increase in Workload

Many organizations are running lean only to be caught short-handed with an unexpected peak. Hiring for what could be a brief spike is risky, so use temporary help to meet the rise in demand without committing to permanent hires.

  1. Seasonal Cycles

Preparing for anticipated peaks can be just as difficult. Whether seasons, holidays, or other factors affect your business, adapt to demand fluctuations by bringing in extra help only when you need it.

Meeting Strategic Objectives

 1.       The Unknown

Every strategic plan is subject to some uncertainty. If the road ahead is unclear, use temporary staff to keep your workforce flexible. Bring in the labor and expertise when your business needs it and avoid the expense and problems caused by over staffing.

 2.       Expertise on a Short-Term Basis

The contingent workforce includes many employees and many positions including light industrial and clerical individuals, to IT specialists, and other professionals. These individuals not only cover short-term staffing needs, but they can also bring valuable expertise to the table. They can teach new skills to your organization without the cost of a permanent hire. Bringing in someone with specific experience can save you time and money by shortening the learning curve for a new process.

3.       Special Projects

Concerned about a project bringing down productivity? Bring in temporary employees to help directly or to provide support to the people working on the project. Keep daily operations running smoothly and get the project done on schedule.

Fill in Gaps in Your Workforce

 1.       Short-Term Need

Relieve the stress of employee absences by bringing in temporary support in cases of illness, vacation, maternity leave, or other leaves of absence. Don’t forget to prepare for the holidays, with their overlapping vacations and the increase in personal and sick days.

2.       Immediate Need

Take the pressure off your hiring process by bringing in a temporary to fill in immediately. This will allow you the time to find the right replacement. And if you’re satisfied with the individual, your search may be over before it even starts!

Flexible staffing can actually bring stability to your workforce by easing the stress of peak demands, while allowing you to operate lean. The right staffing strategy can be your way of doing more with less.